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More than 300,000 with Temporary Protected Status get extension — but thousands without protections

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks about border security during a briefing at the White House on May 11, 2023.
Evan Vucci/AP
/
AP
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks about border security during a briefing at the White House on May 11, 2023. The Biden administration recently announced that it will extend legal status by 18 months for more than 300,000 people from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Nepal, disappointing some advocates and members of Congress who sought a more generous offer.

The Biden Administration recently announced it was extending Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for more than 300,000 residents from four countries, but immigration advocates and attorneys say the decision doesn’t go far enough.

The extension allows residents from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Nepal to live and work legally in the U.S. for an additional 18 months, a program the Trump administration tried to end and which was challenged in court.

The administration’s decision to extend the program, however, only applies to those who already have TPS and those who do must reregister to maintain their status.

“For those four countries, we’re thinking that it's around 330,000 people approximately,” said Haim Vasquez, who operates Haim Vasquez Immigration Law Firm PLLC in Irving. “That’s nothing compared to the amount of Salvadorians, Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Nepalese who have come after their designated continuous presence in the country.”

Vasquez said these protections should be extended to others who arrived from those countries after the dates specified by the federal government. That would include people who’ve been here as many as 20 years.

Under current TPS rules, eligible people from Honduras and Nicaragua must have lived here continuously since Dec. 30, 1998. For those from El Salvador, it’s Feb. 13, 2001, and for Nepal, it’s June 24, 2015.

“So a Salvadoran who’s been here for 10 years does not qualify for TPS. The same way as a Honduran or Nicaraguan,” said Vasquez. “So this does not help alleviate the issue that we have with the immigration law system at the moment in not being able to have lawful status to addressing the issue of Central Americans.”

The new expiration dates mean TPS holders from El Salvador who re-register will be able to retain their status through March 9, 2025.

Nicaraguan and Honduran TPS holders will have until July 5, 2025 to retain their status. And those from Nepal will have until June 24, 2025.

Vasquez suspects the reason TPS hasn’t been opened to more people from these countries is because the topic of immigration has become too politicized. Any new policy that’s introduced, he said, is automatically challenged.

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at schavez@kera.org. You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

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Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.